I have been hugely impressed with Watford this season but it is far too early to be linking their manager, Marco Silva, with one of the top-flight’s big jobs.
The 40-year-old Portuguese was handed a lifeline by the Hornets and was a surprise appointment in many ways. His Premier League career could have been over in May after presiding over Hull City’s relegation last term and he needs to serve his time.
That said, Watford’s players are displaying a tremendous attitude at present and there appears a real togetherness at Vicarage Road, which was possibly not the case under Silva’s predecessor, Walter Mazzarri, during the previous campaign.
What is interesting is that Silva has thrown a number of formations at his players, and whether they are playing 3-4-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, which is dependent upon who and where they are playing, all parties have bought into it.
That ability to adapt shows me that Watford’s players are working and being worked very hard in training, there is real analysis of the opposition being done and there is an overriding willingness to execute plans to the letter.
Their attitude, combined with a hunger to work harder than their opponents, means Watford are asking a lot of questions at the minute. Lying fourth in the Premier League, having lost just one match so far, speaks for itself.
Silva will have benefitted from not many of Watford’s players being subject to international call-ups, which means he has had invaluable time on the training pitch with them during the recent breaks. It looks to me as though he’s been using that time wisely.
Whether Andre Gray, who I believe was a shrewd signing from Burnley during the close season, or Troy Deeney plays as the central striker, the intention is to break the opponent’s backline.
Everton, for instance, weren’t flagged offside until the 80th minute against Brighton on Sunday and that’s because they have no threat over the top. Watford have a clear tactic to turn defences, which in turn alleviates defensive pressure.
Silva is winning the tactical battle, while Watford always tend to be in games and scoring injury-time goals, as they have done in their last three matches, is a useful to habit to have.
Nevertheless, all this talk of Silva being on the radar of other clubs is overblown after only eight Premier League games. As soon as any manager puts together a little run, he’s always linked elsewhere and it’s a disappointing facet of the modern game.
Should the Arsenal job, for instance, become available, is Silva right for that? I don’t think so. Not yet. He has to earn his spurs and that means, at the very least, a full season with the Hornets.
Within that, he would need his Watford side to show a high level of consistency, while he would have to demonstrate the clever acquisition of players and an intelligent use of his squad.
Silva is in a great place. He has got a good project to work with and it is so far, so good, but also way too early to draw any long-term conclusions about his career trajectory.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who has played at two World Cups and two European Championships. @TrevorSteven63